Just hours after the new executive structure at Fox was announced, the newly anointed Murdoch brothers faced what some in the media are portraying as their first crisis — clearing up their relationship with Fox News Channel boss Roger Ailes.
Under a new hierarchy that goes into effect July 1, James and Lachlan Murdoch step into roles previously filled by their father, Rupert Murdoch. But The Wall Street Journal notes that the transition hasn’t exactly gone smoothly when it comes to Ailes.
“The relationship got off to an awkward start last week after word of the succession broke on CNBC,” WSJ reports. “Mr. Ailes said publicly he would continue to report directly to Rupert Murdoch. Then on Tuesday, a company spokesman said that in fact Mr. Ailes would report to the Murdoch brothers, although he would continue his ‘unique and long-standing relationship with Rupert.’”
James Murdoch, 42, becomes CEO on July 1, while Lachlan, 43, joins Rupert Murdoch as executive co-chairmen.
“Mr. Ailes has enjoyed considerable autonomy while reporting to the elder Mr. Murdoch,” WSJ notes, adding: “The decision to have Mr. Ailes report to the younger Murdochs was seen by some familiar with the inner workings of 21st Century Fox as a potential issue over time. Mr. Ailes protects his corner of the Fox empire with zeal.”
The 75-year-old Ailes’ contract is up next summer, just months before the presidential election, the report notes.
The Financial Times reports that Ailes hasn’t always agreed with the brothers, and had an open conflict with Lachlan about 10 years ago. However, the relationship among the three key players appears to be closer now, the publication adds.